Too often this Ward has made development decisions that emphasize short-term private gains instead of the long-term community. It’s time to prioritize resident-focused development, one that emphasizes creating a vibrant City community that we all can enjoy, over an approach solely based on a quick profit. Let’s focus on eliminating retail vacancies, creating more green space, great transit and traffic reduction, and making our neighborhood a great place to live, work, and play.
I will completely change how we approach development in the Ward by establishing clear and transparent timelines for evaluating projects, posting proposed projects online, and offering the opportunity for the community to give feedback both in-person and online.
Here’s how I’ll tackle development issues critical to our community:
Despite being one of the most prosperous communities in the City, we have an alarming retail vacancy rate. Along many parts of Armitage, Lincoln, Halsted, and Clark, we see a shocking amount of vacancies that are a drain on our community. We must start by reforming the tax code so absentee landlords in economically successful areas don’t receive a tax advantage for leaving a retail property vacant for several years. Let’s make sure our tax code doesn’t pay these delinquent owners. I’ll make sure properties that aren’t well-maintained or secured against crime will face City fines. I’ll also be thoughtful to not overbuild new retail that creates additional vacancies in our area, instead of supporting the retail footprint we already have. Finally, let’s streamline the process to get a business license, renovate a storefront, or put a new business in place. Government approvals should be fast and simple for legitimate businesses and never discourage a new business from coming into our community.
We need to make sure our neighborhood continues to offer a variety of housing so that our community remains affordable to all Lincoln Park, Old Town, and Gold Coast residents and not just the most wealthy. That means continuing to embrace housing options other than McMansions, especially two-and-three flats, and six-unit buildings, along with single-family homes and the larger buildings we have in-place along the Lakefront.
In any development, we need to make sure to maximize the amount of real green space. Especially in areas of the Ward with more density, green space is a critical component for quality of life. I would ensure any significant new development comes with plenty of green space for the surrounding community.
Lincoln Yards Development
The potential Lincoln Yards development has massive implications for our neighborhood, and we need an engaged Alderman fighting for the 43rd Ward’s interests in this process. While in a neighboring Ward, we still need to be heavily involved in this process. I will organize our community to fight for the smart planning and critical infrastructure improvements we need to make sure anything that gets built works well with our community.
We need to focus on reducing traffic congestion in and around our neighborhood. Getting to the highway from Lincoln Park, Old Town, and the Gold Coast, often takes longer than it does to drive the highway to the O’Hare. As Alderman, I would insist on an independent traffic study for any major development project and significant infrastructure spending to mitigate any traffic issues created by growth in our area. I would also focus on improving our roads, as poor road repair is often the cause of slow zones and accidents that increase congestion. Finally, I’d advocate for great transit throughout our community to increase transportation options and improve traffic flow for everyone.
Promoting Local Businesses
I’ll work quickly and efficiently with local businesses and be a catalyst for their success instead of a bureaucratic roadblock. This starts by promising turnaround times on business licenses and permits, signs, and sidewalk cafes. Permits won’t be accepted or denied based on political contributions or personal favoritism, and I’ll hold myself to it by detailing in writing the reasons for any lack of acceptance.
In addition, we’ll work with our local Chamber of Commerce to promote local businesses and restaurants to our residents with new programs like “business of the week” and “monthly date-night restaurant recommendations” that showcase all our neighborhood has to offer. Local business should feel their Alderman is a partner in their efforts and has their back.